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Tire Data Location Rules Are Issued

NHTSA requirements should make safety information easier for motorists to find.

November 19, 2002|From Reuters

Motorists should find it easier to locate critical information about their tires under new rules issued by federal regulators Monday in response to the Firestone tire debacle two years ago.

Starting September 2003, vehicle manufacturers will be required to standardize the location of more colorful notices on recommended tire pressures, placing them on the driver-side door pillar.

A year later, tire makers will be required to phase in placement of the tire identification number and the date of manufacture on both sides of a tire to help consumers more easily see whether their tires are subject to a recall.

Most of the rules, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, were required by legislation passed by Congress in 2000 in response to the failure of certain Firestone tires that were fitted mostly to Explorer sport utility vehicles made by Ford Motor Co.

Deaths and injuries linked to the tread separations and blowouts led to recalls of millions of tires made by Firestone, a unit of Japan's Bridgestone Corp.

Tire identification information sometimes is available only from the side of the tire visible from under the vehicle. And vehicle makers put recommended tire inflation notices in a variety of locations, including the glove box and the trunk.

"We were amazed how many people in our research didn't even know that the thing existed, never mind where to find it," said Roger Kurrus, who oversees NHTSA's consumer communication campaigns.

The new rules also include a requirement that automakers put more tire safety information in the owner's manual, including a discussion of the importance of correct tire inflation and the consequences of underinflation.

The changes in display of tire identification information will be phased in over 12 months beginning Sept. 1, 2004, when 40% of tires must comply. Over the following year, 70% will have to conform, and all tires will have to meet the new rules by Sept. 1, 2006.

The gradual introduction will give tire makers time to make molds with the identification and date of manufacture on both sides, an NHTSA official said.

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